Impact of Minimum Wage Changes on Small Businesses

482429529By Robin Noah, SCORE Orange County Business Mentor

Just about every state is going through a minimum salary change. Take a trip through the internet regarding minimum wage increases and your eyes will be opened.

In California most employers are aware that California’s minimum wage for non-exempt employees will increase from $8 per hour to $9 per hour on July 1, 2014, and to $10 per hour on January 1, 2016.   These upcoming minimum wage increases are significant because they also impact the minimum salary for exempt status employees, and commissioned inside sales employees.

Exempt Class: To be classified as an exempt employee the employee is required to meet certain requirements with regard to the type of work they are doing – they also must meet a minimum salary test.  Additionally California law requires that an exempt classified employee must earn a monthly salary that is twice the state minimum for a full time employee (40 hours per week).

The current minimum salary for a full time, exempt employee is $33,280 per year.  This will increase on July 1, 2014 to a minimum exempt salary of $37,440 per year.  By 2016, employees will need to earn at least $41,600 per year to meet the minimum salary test for exempt status.

Inside sales: State minimum wage also impacts the pay of commissioned inside sales employees.  Under California law, an inside salesperson will be exempt from overtime pay if they earn more than 1.5 times the state minimum wage  and more than half their income comes from commission.  This means that in order to be exempt from overtime pay after July 1, 2014 an inside sales person must earn at least $13.51 per hour, and starting on January 1, 2016 an inside sales person must earn at least $15.01 per hour.

To learn more, read the most recent SCORE Orange County Newsletter.

3 Most Important Laws Of Successful Marketing from Orange County Networking and Marketing Gurus

Find out what Orange County networking and marketing gurus can teach you about successful marketing.

tom patty and john pietro

Tom Patty and John Pietro

If you are dissatisfied with the results of your marketing and are looking for a simple, easy to follow way to improve your marketing, attend this marketing seminar on Tuesday, July 22. 2014 at 8 a.m.

With more than 50 combined years of marketing experience, Tom Patty and John Pietro will teach you how to utilize and benefit from the three most important laws of successful marketing.

  1. Learn how to develop a “Marketing Perspective.”
  2. Learn how to market your product or service as “better for someone” specifically.
  3. Learn how to differentiate your product or service from your competition

Makes plans to attend today! Register now.

Where:
Microsoft Store #578, 2nd Floor
The Shops At Mission Viejo
Mission Viejo, CA 92691

 

 

10 Steps to Creating your First Product

462604973By Eran Weinberg

Let’s face it – your first product will most likely fail.  Creating a successful product or service is about constantly prototyping, tweaking, refining, making mistakes, learning, and repeating. That might sound like a chaotic mess, but there’s a process behind it – one that can be applied not only to your first product, but to your first startup, website, or small business.

1.      Know yourself: The life of an entrepreneur isn’t for everybody.  It’s filled with failure, uncertainty, and sleepless nights.  But, occasionally, there are those tiny thrills only an entrepreneur can know– a new insight, an “aha moment,” a baby step toward your goal. If you think you’re ready to commit your life to your product and handle the ups and downs—then read on…

2.      Fill the gap: Maybe you have an idea in mind already, maybe you don’t.  Either way, identify the gap you’re filling.  It could be a physical or emotional gap that the market needs. For example, a better designed walking cane fills a physical gap by improving a person’s immobility.  Fun, toy-shaped speakers (my first product, Headphonies) filled an emotional gap, creating satisfaction of happiness.  In order to understand what product to make you have to understand consumer behavior and where the gaps lie.

3.      Research: What’s already out there? This is a very important step in order to determine if and how you should develop your product. Identify your competition by reviewing features, price, competitor size, distribution and design. If you find a product that is similar, maybe there is a gap in the market that could position it in a new way. Some people decide to take more risk by creating something brand new, while others prefer the safer route of following another inventor’s footsteps. Revisit step one—know yourself.  Decide what level of risk you’re willing to take.

4.      Define the requirements: What are the minimum requirements to fill your gap? When you are first starting out, don’t add a bunch of “features” to your product that you think will dazzle your customers. By creating the minimum requirements, you will learn what your customer truly wants.  Do one thing well first – You can save the bells and whistles for Version 2.0.

5.      Design multiple versions: Sketch up as many design versions of your initial concept  as you can imagine.  Here’s where you put your creative cap on.  Think wild and big and impossible, and you will come up with solutions that are unique and innovative. Your sketches can be rough, unfinished, or ugly –anything but perfect.

6.      Pick your top contenders: Pick 1-3 of the concepts you like the best and decide which features you like about each. Compile those ideas together, creating different mockups and versions.  Continue refining until you’re ready for the next step.

7.      Prototype: Create your first 3d printed prototype or even hand-made prototype.  If you are creating a website or app, use a wireframing tool. There are plenty of inexpensive ways to make prototypes these days including buying a cheap 3D printer, carving foam and wood, as well as web tools such as Mockflow or Adobe Illustrator.

8.      User testing: Get your potential customers to test and give you feedback on your prototype. You don’t have to have a fancy working prototype. The most important is to see how they interact with and understand your product.

9.   Refine your design: Once you understand what products and features are working (and not), begin improving the function and aesthetic. Here’s where you bring in the beauty.

10.   Bring it to life: Once you have validated your product fills the gap and finalized the product it’s time to build!  Start small, start simple. Order the minimum units you can get, or build the simple version of your website or app. This is your first exposure to real market insights and there are still many lessons to learn.

Rinse, wash, and repeat. Remember, this is an evolving process. You’re constantly building, prototyping, and refining. Regardless of the success or failure of your first go-around, take the knowledge you’ve discovered and start all over. Each time you will be moving closer to that success.

Eran Weinberg is the founder and CEO of Liv360.com and Inclusive Design & Development, a product development consultancy. He has designed and invented over 100 products ranging from children’s toys to consumer electronics to healthcare products. He teaches business and product design at his alma mater, Pasadena Art Center College of Design.